Turn on thread page Beta
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    An interesting paper by R.M. Hare about how utilitarianism can deal with intuitively immoral actions. I'd like to know how all the anti-utilitarians deal with this...

    http://www.utilitarian.net/hare/by/1979----.pdf

    I think a lot of people fail to understand how subtle utilitarianism can be. Might one not institute an anarcho-capitalist system because it would be for the greatest good?
    Offline

    9
    ReputationRep:
    No offense but that's a rather long article for D&D - can you summarize? Or perhaps offer some discussion of the points raised by Hare? I don't mean to be rude but I have no enthusiasm for reading this post unless you're offered me something of your own to interact with.

    Your final point is quite dramatic: what makes you say that? Why would it be for the greatest good?
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    tldr...
    pure utilitarianism may endorse slavery if it is for the greatest good for the greatest number of people...
    utilitarianism is often used to provide a backbone to many controversial and perhaps 'immoral' arguments, most of which are not properly thought out...and lack any real substance...this is why it has so few genuine exponents...aside from trolls
    Offline

    17
    ReputationRep:
    I won't read this right now although I do intend to. But instead shouldn't the title be:
    "Can utilitarianism promote slavery".
    I don't think Bentham or Mill would advocate slavery in their forms of utilitarianism (although I might be wrong, it's been a while since I looked at that).
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    Firstly thankyou for linking to this paper. Despite a rather laborious start I knew it was well worth a read when I got to his chosen example: two Carribean islands, one suffering and impoverished under "chaotic" freedom while the other prospers as a result of the populace being enslaved to a state run by an absolute military dictator:

    "Camaica lacked what Juba had: a government with the will and the instrument, in the shape of the institution of slavery [author's emphasis], to control the economy and the population, and so make its slave-citizens, as I said, the envy of its neighbours."

    He goes on to posit "[a] flood of people in fishing boats seeking to emigrate from free Camaica and insinuate themselves as slaves into the plantations of Juba". I don't know if this is a piss-take or if he's actually an insane communist, but either way it's absolutely brilliant.

    -------------

    His argument, unfortunately, seems to be extremely weak. For those who didn't read it, he is essentially saying that, even though he admits there are circumstances in which slavery might bring greater utility, it is preferable for people to have a knee-jerk reaction against slavery because it is more important that they are not conned into supporting bad slavery (which he contends it overwhelmingly more common) than the very rare instances of good slavery. But I don't think this argument does the work he wants it to at all: it is only a utilitarian justification for indoctrinating individuals to always be against slavery, not a utilitarian justification for slavery being always bad; in fact he explicitly concedes according to utilitarianism it is sometimes good.
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    I admit, I haven't read Hare's paper, but if Collingwood's summary is accurate it just sounds like bog standard objective act utilitarianism. Which, in certain (perhaps unlikely) circumstances will require slavery.
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by RawJoh1)
    I admit, I haven't read Hare's paper, but if Collingwood's summary is accurate it just sounds like bog standard objective act utilitarianism. Which, in certain (perhaps unlikely) circumstances will require slavery.
    That's what I thought. It just seems like a detailed elaboration of an obvious objection to act utilitarianism.

    Though I must admit I haven't read your source OP - that is way too long for passing interest on TSR!
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    Sorry guys, I should have given a summary. I think Collingwood's summary is pretty accurate but I'll just add one point: Hare argues that these examples don't really matter because they will never occur and morality is practical so it doesn't really matter . It just seems to me like a utilitarian squirming.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by tomheppy)
    It just seems to me like a utilitarian squirming.
    I have to say, this was my impression. Long winded squirming, too.
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by tomheppy)
    Sorry guys, I should have given a summary. I think Collingwood's summary is pretty accurate but I'll just add one point: Hare argues that these examples don't really matter because they will never occur and morality is practical so it doesn't really matter . It just seems to me like a utilitarian squirming.
    Nah it's not unreasonable to expect people to read a 20 page paper.

    Examples like this do matter. Moral claims have universal scope (though a sensible morality will be contextualised in its pronouncements). The problem with this sort of counterexample to utilitarianism is epistemic, in my view, in that our moral intuitions might not be reliable in situations where slavery might maximise the good etc.

    Still - this isn't where the action is re: utilitarianism is in my view. We can ask ...

    a) is there any reason to think utilitarianism (or even consequentialism) true? Answer: No, imo.

    b) is there any reason for rejecting it? Answer: Yes. Util has been thoroughly duffed up by both Rawls and Bernard Williams.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by RawJoh1)
    Nah it's not unreasonable to expect people to read a 20 page paper.
    I agree, but I think Hare's argument would have quite easily fit on a single page if he had wanted.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Collingwood)
    I agree, but I think Hare's argument would have quite easily fit on a single page if he had wanted.
    I agree, all that talk about Napoleon was so unnecessary. I think this forum has a universal dislike of utilitarianism...
    Offline

    17
    ReputationRep:
    I've had to read longer things recently, I might not read this in one go, but I'm sure I'll end up reading it sometime. I like that the download thing just came up and did it without asking whether I really did want to download it though, lol.
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    "Though law and order were restored after a fashion, and a democracy of a sort prevailed, the economy was chaotic, and this, coupled with a population explosion, led to widespread starvation and misery."

    LOL?!?
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Sure why not? 1 slave 3 house mates MY PLEASURE UNITS WIN!
 
 
 
Poll
Black Friday: Yay or Nay?
Useful resources

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.